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    To Indigenous Communities

Pope Arrives In Canada To Apologize
To Indigenous Communities

Pope Francis began his visit to Canada on Sunday to apologize to Indingenous peoples
for the abuse of Canadian Indigenous children in residential schools. Many people are
calling this a key step in the Catholic Church’s efforts to reconcile with Native
communities and help them heal from generations of trauma.

Called the “penitential pilgrimage,” the Pope was welcomed in Edmonton on Sunday by
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mary Simon, an Inuk who is Canada’s first
Indigenous governor general. Francis’ first official event is scheduled for Monday, where
he will be meeting with survivors near the site of a former residential school in
Maskwacis, where he is expected to deliver an apology.

Indigenous communities want more than just an apology, though, as they press for
access to church archives to learn the fate of children who never returned home from
the residential schools, NBC News reports. They also call for justice for the abusers,
financial reparations, and the return of Indigenous artifacts held by the Vatican

“This apology validates our experiences and creates an opportunity for the church to
repair relationships with Indigenous peoples across the world,” said Grand Chief
George Arcand Jr., of the Confederacy of Treaty Six.

“It doesn’t end here — there is a lot to be done. It is a beginning,” he continued.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has reported that more than 4,000
Indigenous children died either from neglect or abuse in residential schools, many of
which were run by The Church. According to the commission, some 150,000 Indigenous

children were taken from their families and forced to attend in an effort to assimilate
them into Canada’s Christian society.

Last year, hundreds of unmarked graves were discovered on the grounds of former
residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

“I honestly believe that if it wasn’t for the discovery … and all the spotlight that was
placed on the Oblates or the Catholic Church as well, I don’t think any of this would
have happened,” said Raymond Frogner, head archivist at the National Centre for Truth
and Reconciliation.

The Pope will also travel to Quebec and Iqaluit, capital of the Canadian territory of
Nunavut, during the trip. Two Canadian cardinals will accompany him throughout his
visit, Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Cardinal Michael Czerny.


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